Coaching Volleyball For Dummies®

Table of Contents


About This Book

Conventions Used in This Book

What You’re Not to Read

Foolish Assumptions

How This Book Is Organized

Part I: Getting Started Coaching Volleyball

Part II: Building Your Team

Part III: Basic Training: Teaching Volleyball Fundamentals

Part IV: Net Gains: Zeroing In on Advanced Volleyball Skills

Part V: The Extra Points

Part VI: The Part of Tens

Icons Used in This Book

Where to Go from Here

Part I: Getting Started Coaching Volleyball

Chapter 1: Teaching Volleyball to Children

Recognizing Your Behind-the-Scenes Responsibilities

Working with children and parents

Understanding rules and terms

Taking the Court

Planning and executing practices

Handling game day duties

Juggling the Dual Parent-Coach Role

Preparing for All Kinds of Obstacles

Chapter 2: Building a Strong Foundation for a Successful Season

Developing Your Volleyball Coaching Philosophy

Eyeing the importance of a philosophy

Crafting your philosophy to match your age group

Emphasizing teamwork

Motivating players

Creating a positive atmosphere

Keeping communication lines open

Making every child count

Putting fun and skill development first

Making good sportsmanship really matter

Understanding the League You’re Coaching In

Knowing the rules

Playing for fun or first place

Getting on Schedule

Scheduling team practices

Dealing with makeup matches

Dressed for Success: Volleyball Equipment

What the league provides

What players must bring

Chapter 3: The Rundown on Basic Volleyball Rules

Stepping on the Court

Examining the markings on the court

Eyeing the court and the net

Knowing the Rules of the Game

Identifying the basic rules

Considering special rules

Mastering Volleyball Lingo

Understanding the Official’s Signals

Getting Your Kids Ready to Step on the Court

Pointing out player positions and their responsibilities

Filling out a lineup card

Highlighting the basic skills your kids need to play the game

Chapter 4: Getting in Sync with Your Players’ Parents

Introducing Yourself

Explaining Your Coaching Philosophy

Verbalizing your stance on wins and losses

Emphasizing good sportsmanship for players

Maintaining model parent behavior in the stands

Determining playing time and positions

Shuffling Papers: Managing Parental Forms

League documents

Personal packets

Recruiting Parents to Help on the Sidelines

Finding assistant coaches

Filling support roles

Meeting Players’ Special Needs

Concluding Your Meeting with Q & A

Part II: Building Your Team

Chapter 5: Overseeing Your Team

Sizing Up the Players

Evaluating skills

Identifying players’ strengths and weaknesses

Choosing a Starting Lineup

Assigning positions

Finding roles for all your players

Coaching All Kinds of Kids

The average child

The inattentive child

The shy child

The child who’s afraid of getting hurt

The bully

The ball hog

The athletically gifted child

The child who doesn’t want to be there

The inexperienced child

The uncoordinated child

The child with special needs

Chapter 6: Running Fun-Filled Practices

The Opening Practice: Starting the Season on a Good Note

Making a great first impression

Coming to practice prepared

Starting and finishing with fun drills

Devising Fun Practices for the Whole Season

Setting the tone

Determining practice length and frequency

Persuading parents to take the court

Keeping practices consistent

Using practice time efficiently

Making Practice As Productive As Possible for All Players

Building basic skills

Providing help for those in need

Piling on the praise for effort

Ending on a Positive Note

Chapter 7: Making Game Day Memorable — For the Right Reasons

Tending to Pregame Matters

Arriving at the court early

Meeting with referees and opposing coaches

Submitting your lineup

Holding the Pregame Team Meeting and Warm-up

Pumping kids up

Warming up

Coaching a Great Game

Providing constant motivation

Communicating plays

Making player substitutions

Employing advanced strategy

Working with the Referees

Remembering respect

Asking about rules, not judgment

Modeling Good Sportsmanship

Winning gracefully

Losing with class

Wrapping Up the Day: Delivering the Postgame Talk

Zero in on the fun factor

Highlight the positive

Spotlight good sportsmanship

Part III: Basic Training: Teaching Volleyball Fundamentals

Chapter 8: Racking Up Points with Offensive Fundamentals

Focusing Your Approach for Newbies

Mastering the Basics



Setting strategies


Chapter 9: Developing Defensive Fundamentals

Stressing the Importance of Defense

Mastering the Basics of Defense

Maintaining sound defensive position

Serve receive

Passing out of the net



Chapter 10: Fundamental Drills for Beginners

Warming Up Right

Going On the Offensive

Serving smorgasbord

Setting the table with good sets


Making kill shots

Dialing Up Defensive Drills

Receiving serves



Putting It All Together: A Sample Practice Session

Chapter 11: Refining Your Coaching Strategies

Adjusting to Changing Team Dynamics

Revising your coaching plan

Handling challenges as your team improves

Conducting the Midseason Review

Resetting your coaching goals

Helping your team reach its goals

Exploring different approaches for reaching goals

Moving kids to new positions

Helping players conquer injury fears

Meeting One-on-One with Parents

Chapter 12: Taking Your Drills to the Next Level

Upgrading the Offense

Packing more service punch

Spicing up the setting



Strengthening the Defense

Serve receive



Putting It All Together: A Sample Practice Session

Part IV: Net Gains: Zeroing In on Advanced Volleyball Skills

Chapter 13: Revving Up the Offense

Eyeing Advanced Offensive Techniques

Pumping up the serving

Upgrading the attack

Transitioning from Defense to Offense

Examining the setter’s responsibilities

Taking a look at the front and back rows

Covering blocked balls

Turning broken plays to your advantage

Chapter 14: Bolstering the Defense

Polishing Advanced Defensive Techniques

Multiple blocking

Pancake digs

Shoulder roll

Determining Your Defense

Player back setup

Player up alignment

Chapter 15: Stepping Up the Offense

Exploring Different Offensive Systems

Implementing the 6-2

Attacking with the 5-1

Using the 4-2

Analyzing Serve-Receive and Passing Formations

Going with the four-player formation

Dissecting the three-player formation

Using the two-player formation

Sizing Up Setting Systems

Playing with the frontcourt setter

Working with the backcourt setter

Chapter 16: Tightening the Defense

Derailing Different Attacks

Going up against the back row attack

Defeating an off-speed attack

Eyeing Special Defenses

Switching in transition

Facing a free ball

Using a rotation defense

Employing a perimeter defense

Part V: The Extra Points

Chapter 17: Keeping Your Players Healthy and Injury Free

Following a Healthy Diet

Understanding the fuels needed

Fueling up before the match

Filling up after the match and practice

Staying hydrated

Stretch It Out: Getting Your Players’ Muscles Ready for Action

Getting players’ hearts pumping

Covering the basics of stretching

Diving into more advanced stretching

Cooling down in practices and games

Pump It Up: Conditioning Your Team

Bruises to Sprains: Recognizing and Treating Injuries

Stocking your first-aid kit

Tending to common volleyball injuries

Handling an emergency situation

Chapter 18: Dealing with Common Coaching Challenges

Addressing Problem Parents

Win-at-all-cost parents

Parents who use you as a babysitter

Parents who question playing time

Disruptive parents

Perpetually late parents

Handling Problem Coaches

Opposing coaches who encourage unsafe play

Opposing coaches who display poor sportsmanship

Dissenting assistants on your team

Dealing with Discipline Problems on Your Own Team

Using the three-strike technique

Using other techniques

Dealing with the nonlistener

Addressing the nonstop talker

Snuffing Out Problem Spectators

Chapter 19: Coaching a Club Team

Getting Familiar with Club Teams

Assembling Your Club Team

Holding a tryout

Selecting players

Breaking the good and bad news to players

Handling Player Problems on the Road

Addressing safety issues

Tackling behavior issues

Enjoying the Season

Warding off burnout

Keeping everyone interested

Part VI: The Part of Tens

Chapter 20: Ten Ways to Make the Season Memorable

Encourage Laughter

Solicit Player Feedback

Make Every Child Feel Special

Share Your Own Experiences

Set Up a Coaches-Players Tournament

Run Silly Scrimmages

Present Team Awards

Involve the Parents in Practice

Present Team Photo Albums

Keep the Season in Perspective

Chapter 21: Ten Ways to Help Players Take Their Game to the Next Level

Visualize Success

Nullify the Nerves

Meet with Players to Discuss Their Goals

Give ’Em Drills to Perform at Home

Send ’Em Camping

Push the Right Buttons

Cue the Conditioning

Avoid Practice Perfection

Bring In Guest Speakers

Master the Art of Conversing — With Yourself

Coaching Volleyball For Dummies®

National Alliance for Youth Sports with Greg Bach


About the Authors

National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS) has been America’s leading advocate for positive and safe sports for chil- dren since 1981. NAYS serves volunteer coaches, parents with children involved in organized sports, game officials, youth sports administrators, league directors, and the youngsters who partici- pate in organized sports. More than 3,000 communities nationwide, including parks and recreation departments, Boys & Girls Clubs, Police Athletic Leagues, YMCAs and YWCAs, and various indepen- dent youth service groups, along with military installations worldwide, use NAYS’s programs. For more information on the alliance’s programs, which are listed below, visit National Youth Sports Coaches Association (NYSCA) — More than 2.5 million volunteer coaches have been trained through NYSCA, which provides training, support, and continuing education. Parents Association for Youth Sports — Parents gain a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities in youth sports through this sportsmanship training program, which is used in more than 500 communities nationwide. Academy for Youth Sports Administrators — More than 2,000 administrators worldwide have gone through the Academy, which is a 20-hour certification program that raises the profes- sionalism of people delivering youth sport services. A professional faculty presents the information, and participants earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs). National Youth Sports Administrators Association — This program provides training, information, and resources for volunteer administrators responsible for the planning and implementation of out-of-school sports programs. National Youth Sports Officials Association — Officials who go through this certification program gain valuable knowledge on skills, fundamentals, and the characteristics that every good official must possess. 464694-ffirs.1.indd iii 4/7/09 10:58:00 PM Start Smart Sports Development Program — This proven instruc- tional program prepares children for the world of organized sports without the threat of competition or the fear of getting hurt. The program uses an innovative approach that promotes parent-child bonding. Hook A Kid On Golf — Thousands of children of all ages and skill levels tee up every year in the nation’s most comprehensive junior golf development program, which features an array of instructional clinics and tournaments. Game On! Youth Sports — This worldwide effort introduces sports to children who otherwise would not have opportunities to participate.

Greg Bach is the vice president of communications for the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS), where he has worked since 1993. Before joining NAYS, he worked as the sports editor of the Huron Daily Tribune in Bad Axe, Michigan, where he captured numerous writing awards from the Associated Press, Michigan Press Association, and Hearst Corporation. In 1989, he earned a journalism degree from Michigan State University. He’s an avid sports fan and has coached a variety of youth sports. He is also the author of Coaching Soccer For Dummies, Coaching Football For Dummies, Coaching Baseball For Dummies, Coaching Basketball For Dummies, and Coaching Lacrosse For Dummies.


National Alliance for Youth SportsThis book is dedicated to all the volunteer volleyball coaches who give up countless hours of their free time to work with children and to ensure that they have positive, safe, and rewarding experiences in the sport. We applaud their efforts and commend them for making a difference in the lives of youngsters everywhere.

Greg Bach: For Boomer, Rocky, and Benny and all the good times we had.

Author’s Acknowledgments

A lot goes into making a youth volleyball program a truly success- ful one that meets every child’s needs. It takes a real commitment from dedicated volunteer coaches who understand the game and love teaching it to kids; it requires parents to clearly understand their roles and responsibilities; and it calls for league directors and administrators who know what it takes to ensure that every child who steps on the volleyball court in their community has a safe, fun, and rewarding experience. The exciting, action-packed sport of volleyball plays an important role in the lives of millions of children — it provides them with the opportunity to learn the skills of the game and gives them the chance to develop both emotionally and physically as individuals. The National Alliance for Youth Sports extends a heartfelt thank you to every person who makes a positive difference in the life of a child through volleyball. This book is the result of countless hours of hard work from a tremendous group of people, and we can’t thank all the wonder- ful people at Wiley enough for making it all happen. For starters, there’s Stacy Kennedy, the acquisitions editor, whose efforts have led to this being the sixth book in a series for youth coaches; Chad Sievers, the project editor, whose passion for the sport, as both a fan and a longtime official, significantly upgraded the quality of every chapter; Amanda Gillum, the copy editor, whose ideas and great eye for detail made a tremendous difference in the quality of the material presented; the fabulous talents of the illustrators — Rashell Smith, Mark Pinto, Brooke Graczyk — whose work will be great references as you teach your team all the various skills and strategies of the game; and Michelle York, the former all-SEC setter from the University of Mississippi, whose wealth of volleyball knowledge and experience with the sport was a huge asset every step of the way.

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our online registration form located at For other comments, please contact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at 877-762-2974, outside the U.S. at 317-572-3993, or fax 317-572-4002.

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial, and Media Development

Project Editor: Chad R. Sievers

Acquisitions Editor: Stacy Kennedy

Copy Editor: Amanda M. Gillum

Assistant Editor: Erin Calligan Mooney

Editorial Program Coordinator: Joe Niesen

Technical Editor: Michelle York

Editorial Manager: Michelle Hacker

Editorial Assistant: Jennette ElNaggar

Art Coordinator: Alicia B. South

Cover Photos: © Thomas Northcut

Cartoons: Rich Tennant (

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Patrick Redmond

Layout and Graphics: Reuben W. Davis, Brooke Graczyk, Melissa K. Jester, Mark Pinto, Rashell Smith, Christine Williams

Proofreaders: Jessica Kramer, Toni Settle

Indexer: Broccoli Information Management

Publishing and Editorial for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher, Consumer Dummies

Kristin Ferguson-Wagstaffe, Product Development Director, Consumer Dummies

Ensley Eikenburg, Associate Publisher, Travel

Kelly Regan, Editorial Director, Travel

Publishing for Technology Dummies

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher, Dummies Technology/General User

Composition Services

Gerry Fahey, Vice President of Production Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services


Welcome to Coaching Volleyball For Dummies, a book dedicated to all the wonderful volunteer coaches who commit their time and energy to helping children learn about this amazing sport and giving them a fun-filled and stress-free atmosphere to play in. We hope you find the material informative, entertaining, and — most importantly — useful in helping guide all your players to a fun and safe experience, an experience that’s so rewarding they can’t wait to return to the court next season!

About This Book

We wrote this book to lend a hand to first-time volleyball coaches searching for guidance before they step on the court with their new team. After all, having some preseason jitters is perfectly understandable if you’re new to the sport or simply new to coaching it to a group of kids. Not to worry, the book you hold in your hands can put your mind at ease by revealing everything you need to know to help you have a positive impact on the kids and provide them with wonderful memories all season long.

We also wrote this book for those coaches who have been involved with the sport for a few seasons and who are looking for additional insight into different aspects of the game, such as how to upgrade their offensive attack, strengthen their defense, or incorporate more challenging drills into their practice sessions to help keep pace with their players’ ever-changing needs. Whether you’re searching for how to use quick sets or run a 5-1 formation on offense or how to use multiple blocking schemes or defend a left-side attack with a player up alignment on defense, you can find help here.

One of the neat features of this book is that you can dig in anywhere. If you’re a rookie volleyball coach, you may have questions about how to talk to the parents before the season begins or what skills you need to focus on teaching first. If you’re a veteran, you may just want to know how to bolster your defense or improve your offense. Just head to the table of contents or index for the topic you’re most interested in, and then read on to get the scoop on the best approaches. Each chapter is divided into sections, and each section contains information on a specific topic concerning coaching youth volleyball.

Conventions Used in This Book

To help guide you through this book, we use the following conventions:

Italic text emphasizes certain words and highlights new words or phrases that we define in the text.

Boldface text indicates key words in bulleted lists and the action parts of numbered steps.

Monofont sets apart Web addresses.

Mixed genders — he and she — are interchanged throughout this book because all the material we present here works for coaches of both girls’ and boys’ volleyball teams. Also, the we you find throughout the book refers to the National Alliance for Youth Sports, which is America’s leading advocate for positive and safe sports for kids.

What You’re Not to Read

If you ask us, every single page of this book is overflowing with valuable information, and you don’t want to skip over any of it. But we’re realistic and understand that you’re a busy person, so you really don’t have to read every single word. For example, the sidebars — the shaded gray boxes that you see in some of the chapters — feature interesting information that you can skip over when you’re pressed for time or are in a rush because you have a volleyball practice to get to.

Foolish Assumptions

The following are some assumptions we make about you, our reader. All or just some of these may apply to you. No matter what, we had you in mind as we wrote this book:

You know that the game is played on a court with a net; that teams send the ball back and forth across the net; and that the ball hitting the court is only good when it occurs on the opposing team’s side.

You have a son or daughter who wants to play volleyball this season, but you’re not sure how to teach him or her — as well as his or her teammates — the game.

You’re a first-time volleyball coach, or someone who’s relatively new to coaching young volleyball players, and you’re looking for information on how to oversee a youth team.

You’ve been coaching volleyball for a few years for a club program and want to take your practices to the next level so your team can be more competitive.

You don’t have your sights set on coaching a high school or college volleyball team anytime soon.

If any of these descriptions are on target, you’ve come to the right place.

How This Book Is Organized

This book is divided into parts, and each part pertains to a specific aspect of coaching a youth volleyball team. The following sections give you a quick rundown.

Part I: Getting Started Coaching Volleyball

Coaching a youth volleyball team — regardless of whether it’s a group of 8-year-olds who have no clue how to put on their knee pads or a 14-and-under team that has a lot of tournament experience — is a real challenge. Often, the difference between a season that surpasses the kids’ expectations and one that has you reaching for the antacid tablets is the work you do before you ever step onto the court with your team. This part addresses all those areas that often get overlooked but that are crucial for starting the season off on a positive note: creating a coaching philosophy that meets the players’ needs, running an effective preseason parents meeting to get everyone focused on what’s truly best for the kids, and getting a handle on all the rules and terminology of the sport so you can teach them to your players.

Part II: Building Your Team

You volunteered this season to teach your players all sorts of offensive and defensive skills. This section addresses all those questions that are stockpiling in the back of your mind early in the season, such as how to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your players, how to find roles for all the kids to succeed in, and how to coach all different types of kids, ranging from the shy and inattentive to the athletically gifted. This part also answers all your practice and game day questions, including the following:

How do I plan practices that the kids can’t wait to be a part of?

How do I make sure that I’m maximizing my time with the kids during practice?

What do I say to my team before a match to help put them in the proper mindset to play their best at the same time that they enjoy the sport?

What is the best approach for motivating kids during matches, especially when they’re really struggling?

What aspects of the match should I be monitoring closely to ensure that every player has a rewarding experience?

Part III: Basic Training: Teaching Volleyball Fundamentals

Teaching kids the basic elements of volleyball — serving, passing, setting, attacking, and blocking, among others — is crucial for their short-term enjoyment and long-term participation. The better your players can perform these skills, the more satisfying their experience is. In this part, we cover all the basic offensive and defensive skills your players need to be successful when game day rolls around. Plus, we provide an assortment of drills designed to help both beginning level players and those who are ready to build on the basics.

Part IV: Net Gains: Zeroing In on Advanced Volleyball Skills

After your players have a handle on the basics of the game, and are proficient at performing them, you have to keep pace with their development so that their progress doesn’t stall. This part helps you do the job. Here we describe the advanced offensive and defensive techniques you can use to raise the level of the kids’ play and keep their interest in volleyball going strong.

Part V: The Extra Points

We hope that your season will be an injury-free one for your players and a problem-free one for you, but injuries and behaviors are often out of your control. So, the better prepared you are to deal with unexpected injuries or behavior problems, the greater the chance is that your season will continue to run smoothly even if they do arise. In this part, we cover how to help protect your players from injuries; how to treat the minor ones if they do occur; and how to respond to the major ones. We also provide an array of information on resolving conflicts with players, parents, opposing coaches, and even your assistant coaches who may veer away from your coaching philosophy. Also, if you harbor any aspirations to coach at a more advanced volleyball level, such as a club team, we provide everything you need to know to help make your transition to this more elite level a smooth one.

Part VI: The Part of Tens

A feature of all For Dummies books, the Part of Tens has some great information that can help propel your team to a fun-filled season on the volleyball court. We present information on making the season memorable for every player and helping each youngster take her skills to the next level.

Icons Used in This Book

Every For Dummies book includes cute little pictures in the margins to help you navigate important information. Here are the icons we use in this book:

Tip.eps This icon signals valuable tips that can save you time, erase frustration, and upgrade your coaching skills. If you only have time to scan a chapter, you should take a moment to read these tips when you come across them. You — and your players — will be glad you did.

Remember.eps Coaching a youth volleyball team requires a large time commitment on your part, and having the most important facts and reminders in easy-to-find places is helpful. This icon alerts you to key information that’s worth revisiting after you close this book and take the court with your team.

Warning(bomb).eps Pay close attention anytime you come across this icon, which highlights dangerous situations that you have to be aware of to help protect your players.

Where to Go from Here

If this season marks your first experience as a youth volleyball coach on the sidelines, you may be most comfortable diving into Chapter 1 and moving through the book from there. Please note, though, that we structured this book so that you can jump around with ease from chapter to chapter at your convenience. So, if you’re searching for answers to specific questions — perhaps how to teach blocking to your players or which type of serve-receive formation to use — you can scan the table of contents or index for those topics and head right to those chapters. Otherwise, start from the beginning and use the information you gather along the way to help ensure that your youth volleyball team has a fun, safe, and memorable season for all the right reasons.

Part I

Getting Started Coaching Volleyball

464694 pp0101.eps

In this part . . .

Before stepping onto the court with your team, you need to do a little preparation to get your season off to a great start. Crafting your coaching philosophy, understanding the basic rules of volleyball, knowing whether your league has modified any of those rules, and planning and conducting a preseason parents meeting are all important items on your preseason agenda. Each task plays a big role in what type of experience both you and your players have during the season. You can find valuable information on how to execute these tasks and much more in this part.